There has been some discussion and confusion in recent days regarding recruitment of Goldens with hemangiosarcoma (and other cancers) to donate blood and tissue samples for use in research, because owners understandably want to be certain that these samples go to studies that will benefit the breed. GRCA and the Golden Retriever Foundation (GRF) have developed procedures to help ensure that the scientific studies they support are held to the highest research standards, and have the greatest likelihood of producing results that will benefit dogs. These procedures begin with two levels of scientific review at the Canine Health Foundation, followed by review and recommendations from the GRCA Health & Genetics Committee (H&G), and final review and funding decisions by the GRF. Once a project is funded and underway, it is required to submit regular progress and financial reports, which are reviewed by the Science Officer at CHF, and by the H&G. These procedures have contributed to the excellent track record of GRCA and GRF supported research producing results that meet standards for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals; and indeed, some of this research is already benefiting Goldens at the clinical level.
GRCA and GRF have recruitment notices for many of these studies posted on their web sites, and every issue of the GRNews includes contact information for the Research Facilitator for assistance and referral to studies for which individual dogs may qualify. However, perhaps by the very nature of worried owners of affected dogs who may be looking for the latest and newest hope, it appears that these notices may get overlooked in favor of “new bulletins” that can be rapidly circulated on the Internet. This is understandable, but sometimes can lead to confusion and perhaps inadvertent misdirection of valuable blood, tissue, or DNA samples. In the most recent example, it is our understanding that the research mentioned is actually the same research for which GRCA and GRF notices have been recruiting for some time, and already had collection procedures in place. Adding an intermediary third party to the process has the potential to separate owners from the scientists doing the research, and to inadvertently introduce errors or omissions in the information transfer.
We encourage owners to participate in research whenever possible, and we suggest that the most efficient sample collection process is the one supported by GRCA and GRF, in which the samples go directly to the scientists involved in the research. At the present time, all blood (and sometimes tumor samples) from Goldens with any form of cancer can be sent to one researcher, Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD, who by agreement then distributes the DNA to several different studies as needed. These studies include, but are not limited to, those headed by Dr Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, Dr Matthew Breen, Dr Elaine Ostrander, and Dr Stuart Helfand. Information regarding sample submission can be obtained from Dr Modiano’s website http://www.modianolab.org/ index.shtml or by contacting the Research Facilitator email@example.com.
In addition, blood samples only (not tissue) from both normal Goldens and those with cancer, may be sent to Dr Lindblad-Toh, with further information available at http://www.broad.mit.edu/mammals/dog/pdfs/ dog_project_info.pdf A complete listing of research recruitment needs for studies funded through the Canine Health Foundation is available online at http://www.akcchf.org/research/participation.cfm
We hope that this will serve to clarify some of the questions we have received in recent days, and we also intend to work on additional procedures which will make it easier for owners to assist research that benefits the breed. With the numerous research studies currently ongoing, and many more in the planning stages, there are excellent choices for owners who wish to donate samples – and best of all, that means there is a whole lot of hope to go around!
The Golden Retrieveer Club of America Board of Directors
The Golden Retriever Club of America Health & Genetics Committee
The Golden Retriever Foundation